Situational awareness – March 26, 2018

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City. Welcome to Utah’s must-read daily political news roundup. 

Significant support among Utahns for medical cannabis. The Davis County GOP slams the Romney campaign again. Stormy Daniels tells her story to 60 minutes.

Tick Tock

  • 20 days until the signature-gathering deadline for statewide ballot initiatives (4/15/2018)
  • 26 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 33 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 92 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 225 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 308 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 954 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day

Big support for legalizing medical marijuana

Our latest poll finds more than 3/4 of Utahns say they support making medical cannabis legal [Utah Policy].

Davis County GOP hits Romney…again

The very same day that the Davis County GOP backed away from a public Facebook post accusing Mitt Romney’s campaign of “illegally” obtaining delegate lists, the party sent an email to delegates leveling the exact same charge [Utah Policy].

“Political Insiders” say it’s time to give up the fight against SB54

Our panel says the GOP should take the hint and abandon their legal fight against the signature gathering route to the ballot [Utah Policy].

Stewart says Trump was “just wrong” to congratulate Putin

Rep. Chris Stewart says he disagrees with President Trump’s decision to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on winning re-election, but he also says anyone who is dreaming of impeaching Trump because of collusion with Russia will be “waiting a long time” [Utah Policy].

Political bracket round of 16

We’ve got four “Sweet 16” matchups for you today in our political bracket challenge. Hit the link and vote. Winners move into the round of 8 later this week [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines

  • Attorney General Sean Reyes says he has a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers ready to go, but he’s not going to file it just yet [Fox 13].
  • Gov. Gary Herbert signs more bills into law, including a measure to overhaul the Utah Transit Authority [Tribune].
  • U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney’s net worth could be as high as $270 million according to financial disclosures [Associated Press].
  • Rep. John Curtis admits he heard three complaints about inappropriate sexual conduct against former police chief John King while he was mayor of Provo [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Former Rep. Jon Stanard has reimbursed the Utah House for a pair of hotel stays that coincided with alleged meetings with a prostitute [Fox 13].

National headlines

  • The interview everyone is talking about. Adult film actress Stormy Daniels told her story about having an affair with President Donald Trump. Her interview on 60 Minutes did not reveal much new information, but she did say she was threatened to remain silent about the relationship [Politico].
  • Massive gun control marches across the country on Saturday could turn the issue into a potent campaign issue during the 2018 midterms and put Republicans on the defensive [New York Times].
  • Cambridge Analytica, the data firm employed by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, sent non-citizens to advise Republican candidates in 2014, despite U.S. laws limiting foreign involvement in elections [Washington Post].
  • Republican governors across the country are reversing course and pouring money into public education, turning their back on years of conservative rhetoric about being able to do more with less funding [Washington Post].
  • A Virginia defense contractor and fundraiser for President Trump’s campaign told prospective clients that he could broker meetings with the president. He also marketed his connections to the president to politicians and governments around the world [New York Times].
  • President Trump is struggling to hire top legal talent to assist him as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation enters a critical phase. Trump has lost two lawyers in the past four days, and top law firms are spurning offers to take over his defense [New York Times].
  • On Monday, President Trump will announce the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats living in the U.S. as a response to the nerve-gas attack on a former Russian spy living in the U.K. [Bloomberg].
  • Republican Senators are saying they hope Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, is making plans to retire. That would give President Trump another Supreme Court nominee and could rally the Republican base to support vulnerable incumbents in 2018 [The Hill].
  • President Trump is reportedly moving to oust VA secretary David Shulkin [Associated Press].

On this day in history

  • 1812 – A political cartoon in the Boston Gazette coins the term “gerrymander” to describe oddly shaped electoral districts designed to help incumbents win reelection.
  • 1830 – The Book of Mormon is published in Palmyra, New York.
  • 1953 – Dr. Jonas Salk announced he had successfully tested a vaccine against polio.
  • 1979 – Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter sign the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in Washington, D.C.
  • 1982 – A groundbreaking ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is held in Washington, D.C.